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Best Actress winner Frances McDormand ended her passionate Oscars speech Sunday night with two words that may not have been familiar to those outside the entertainment biz — “inclusion rider.”
What exactly is it, and how could such an agreement promote diversity in film?
The concept is credited to the founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, a think-tank that studies diversity and inclusion within entertainment.
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Stacy L. Smith, associate professor of communication at USC, said she came up with the idea several years ago after looking at the top 100 grossing films and realizing that the numbers weren’t changing when it comes to diversity.
“I started thinking, how can we make change and how can we counter the bias that we see in so much content?” she told Kelly Cutrara on 640 Toronto.
She wrote about the concept in 2014 for the Hollywood Reporter and addressed it in a 2016 TED Talk.
The inclusion rider is an addendum to a creator or actor’s contract that specifies targets or inclusion goals for a project. The rider pertains to those in smaller on-screen roles as well as key players such as assistant directors, cinematographers and composers, Smith said.
By mandating the inclusion of groups traditionally underrepresented in film, including people of colour, women, the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities, the inclusion rider aims to make a film’s cast and crew reflect the world that the work exists in.
The initiative is a collaboration between Smith and civil rights attorney Kalpana Kotagal and actor Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.
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Smith said on Monday that social media has “exploded” since McDormand mentioned it in her acceptance speech.
“We’re just hoping that there will be ripple effects and it will catalyze folks to really take inclusion seriously and take steps towards adopting solutions for change,” she said.
McDormand was nominated for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. In her speech, she asked the female nominees in every category to stand, and told everyone in the room to look around.
“We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed,” McDormand said. “Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days … and we’ll tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen — inclusion rider.”
Backstage, McDormand said she just learned of such a possibility last week although she said the opportunity to ask for or demand diversity in cast and crew is not new.
“The fact that I just learned that after 35 years of being in the film business, we’re not going back,” she said.
“It changes now and I think the inclusion rider will have something to do with that,” McDormand said.
The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative analyzed 900 popular films released between 2007 and 2016, and found that the prevalence of female speaking characters has hovered around 30 per cent in that period. Only 34 women worked as directors for the films released in those years.
Among the top 100 movies of 2016, the report found that 47 did not feature a single black woman with lines, 66 didn’t have an Asian woman with a speaking part and 72 didn’t feature any Latinas who spoke on camera.
Smith said Hollywood’s storytelling remains dominated by the perspective of the straight, white, able-bodied male.
“That’s not the world that we live in,” she said. “The world is multi-dimensional, the world is diverse and the world has amazing stories that spill out beyond that small fraction of the population.”
— With files from the Associated Press
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Note: “Previously Published on: 6 March 2018 | 12:43 am, as ‘What’s an inclusion rider? The researcher behind the idea referenced by Frances McDormand explains’ on GLOBALNEWS CANADA. Here is a source link for the Article’s Image(s) and Content”.